I was lucky enough to be selected for the "Gold Medal Travel Mega Fam", with a stunning itinerary in Thailand, taking in Khoa Lak, Elephant Hills and Bangkok.
The trip started at Heathrow and once we had met all members of our crazy group, it was a swift process through check in and onto the departure lounge ready to depart. Our first flight took us to Bangkok via Abu Dhabi with Etihad, to meet a connecting flight on to Phuket with Bangkok Airways.
The Etihad flight was on the Airbus A380 which is a lovely aircraft, very comfortable with plenty of leg room and a great range of in-flight entertainment from movies, games, music, seat to seat messaging and much, much more. For the more luxurious traveller they offer the new Residence, which is a luxury apartment in the air. Staying in the Residence you have the facilities of a bedroom with a full double bed, a living area and a bathroom with shower. You also get the luxury of your own onboard Butler and chef to pander to your needs.
Bangkok Airport is massive so a little suggestion for people with walking difficulties, definitely request assistance!
Centara Seaview Khao Lak
The first hotel we stayed at was the Centara Seaview Khao Lak. The hotel is around an hour’s drive from Phuket Airport.
It sits in a large complex with a variation of room types accommodating family and couples.
There is a large pool area, fitness room, tennis courts and a great team who are happy to cater to your every need. Oh, and a lighthouse off the coast of an amazing beach!
One of the major selling points for this hotel is that walking distance to Khao Lak’s main strip! Once in the family room section at the back of the hotel there is a small walk way through to the main street, perfect for those looking for a centrally located base.
From the moment you walk into The Sarojin you feel yourself relax. This hotels concept is to make you feel at home and it truly does. This hotel mainly caters for adults but does allow children over the age of 10 years to stay.
There is a wonderful pool area with luxurious sun loungers set in a really tranquil setting to help with that relaxation. This area can also be transformed into a private dining area, perfect for honeymooners or special occasions seeking a romantic meal.
Across from the pool is The Wine Bar which serves breakfast all day long for those who like a little ly-in and has an extensive drinks menu.
The hotel has a wide variety of activities that can be arranged for you to enjoy. We were lucky enough to be invited to do a cooking lesson with one of the hotels chef’s, which was really exciting. We were provided with a very professional looking chef’s hat and apron which obviously helped with our culinary creativity and we prepared our very own amazing looking beef Thai salad that tasted phenomenal.
La Flora is a smaller hotel but much more my style. We were met by Fom and Phan who took us on a tour of the rooms, grounds and facilities the hotel had to offer giving us a lovely history lesson at the same time.
The rooms are beautifully decorated and there is great attention to detail with handmade copper sinks embossed with the hotels name and sunken pools on some of the terraces.
The hotel is situated on the beach front and has a range of water sports available along with a spa and fitness room.
We were lucky enough to be able to dine at this hotel and I can safely say that the meal we had at La Flora was the best I had during my entire trip.
We were met from our hotel and transferred to Ratjaprapha Reservoir and met by our lovely host Bamboo for our overnight adventure with Elephant Hills. I have to say this was the part of the trip I was looking forward to the most.
We spent the next hour on a longtail boat, skimming across the reservoirs surface taking in some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen in my life. When we arrived at the Lake Camp we were all amazed. It consisted of 10 luxury tents on pontoons accessed by a small walk way and your very own canoe.
We spent the afternoon kayaking and swimming in the lake with some of us even spotting gibbons in the surrounding rainforest.
After relaxing in a rubber ring in the lake with a beer in hand, it was time to transfer to base camp for our overnight in a tent in the rainforest!
There are 35 tents at the camp, all are on individual plots and have all the mod cons such as hairdryers and a fan to keep you cool so is a bit more of a glamping experience. The tent also comes with 2 hammocks and 2 lounging chairs to relax in whilst taking in some fantastic views of the rainforest and mountains around you.
The main reception area houses the restaurant, gift shop and bar. The camp is very environmentally friendly and invests in many local projects. During our stay a group of local children performed a number of traditional Thai dances to showcase one of the many causes the camp contributes towards.
The next morning it was on to visit the Elephants, to say I was excited was an understatement!!! When we arrived the elephants were quick to come and make friends and show us their paddock. They were so happy playing in the mud and pond racing eachother around, and ofcourse receiving lots of attention from us. There were 10 elephants in total, one for each of us.
The first task was for us to clean the elephants down after the mud bath they had just provided each other with. The coconut husks used moisturise their skin, whilst obviously moisturising your hands.
We were then trusted with a meat cleaver to cut up pineapples, sugarcane and bananas. The elephants all lined up ready for their breakfast. My elephant was of course greedy and kept pinching the fruit from the other baskets around and spitting the bamboo back at me.
Once our elephant encounter was over we were then taken in a canoe down the Sok River to enjoy more of what the rainforest and the mountains have to offer, plus a few snakes and frogs along the way.
After a comfortable flight with Bangkok Airways we landed in the exciting city of Bangkok.
Centara Watergate Pavillion
Our hotel for this time was the Centara Watergate Pavillion. A modern hotel with amazing roof terrace and lots of qwerky features as you can well imagine this crazy bunch of agents settled in well. The rooms are really spacious for a city hotel with glass walls from the bathroom to see the beautiful city lights whilst having a shower, remember I did say this hotel was qwerky!
There is a gym (which is where I decided to break my little toe, would you believe!) and spa at the hotel and also has two restaurants one with stunning views across the city.
After dinner at the hotel were decided to venture for a night out on the town on Kao San Road
OMG! The Kao San road was crazy! The street is filled with tourists and Thai’s, crowded into bars, looking for a good time. The music was blasting and the bars were filled to capacity with fun loving 20, 30 & 40 something’s. The street was dotted with food stalls some of which had more exotic delicacies such as scorpions on sticks or deep fried tarantula. To finish off the excitement for the night, we jumped into a tuk tuk and sped across Bangkok back to the hotel.
Cycling Tour of Bangkok
An early start of 5am we were taken to the start of our bike tour. I have to say this was part of the trip I was a little apprehensive about. For those who know me I am not, in any way shape or form an athletic person, so to ride a bike around Bangkok was daunting. Although all my worries passed when we started the ride, it was amazing! To see parts of Bangkok you cannot see from a car or coach at the break of dawn as Bangkok was just waking up was incredible. The sights and sounds are things I would never have dreamed of seeing.
We started our tour in Bangkok’s flower market, with yellow flowers for as far as the eye could see. We then were taken to China town and cycled through the market, where I decided it would be a good idea to get lost! After realising that I had no way of contacting the other members of the party I made my way back and a lovely thai lady pointed me in the right direction. We joined a longtail boat and loaded on our bikes to be taken to the outskirts of the city where continued on cycling alongside the canal among mango trees and bamboo groves.
A few hours into the tour we visited a little wooden restaurant on the side of the river. As we walked in there lay a large wooden table filled with amazing dishes – noodles, vegetables, omelettes, rice and curries. This really was an amazing lunch with the lady who owned the restaurant cooking on a gas burner behind us – a truly delicious meal in a wonderful authentic Thai setting. Soon it was time to get back on our bikes and return to them to the tour office.
I really did surprise myself here and loved every moment of the ride.
My trip to Thailand was amazing! I could not sum up into one word how I felt upon my return and hope to visit the country again very, very soon.